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Hargrave’s 186-Foot Vessel Shows Creativity

The 186-foot Hargrave Baba’s sees the builder flexing its creative muscle.

September 1, 2020
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186-foot Hargrave Yacht exterior
The 186-foot Baba’s is the largest custom yacht to date from Hargrave, in both length and volume. Suki Finnerty

If you ask Sam Shalem what convinced him that Hargrave Custom Yachts could build an 887-gross-ton 186-footer—its most complex yacht ever—he answers without hesitation: “I developed a confidence.”

It’s a sensible reply from a man who commissioned three Hargrave yachts prior to Baba’s, which is 50 feet larger and more than double the gross tonnage of his last Hargrave. Baba’s is also classed to Lloyds Commercial Large Yacht Code (LY3), despite initially planning solely for a private yacht. So, what has he experienced with Hargrave that he believes he wouldn’t have elsewhere? He’ll tell you, again without hesitation, “They’re highly honest. … They’re professional.”

These days, many shipyards tell buyers they can design their yachts the way they see fit, but some of those same builders actually offer semicustom yachts. Some, arguably, are more production than semicustom. Clients have two, maybe three choices for general arrangements, for example, and the exterior styling is set in stone. Fewer permit moving nonstructural bulkheads. Much of the time, the systems and engine packages are nonnegotiable.

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That was not the case with Baba’s.

“That’s the biggest advantage of Hargrave,” Shalem says. “They let you do this.”

186-foot Hargrave Yacht interior
Every square inch of the interior aboard Baba’s reflects the input of Shalem, including materials used, design styles and even stitching. Tom Serio

Hargrave saw the challenge as a way to prove its mettle to would-be owners outside the United States. “This is the connection to the global market we never had,” says Michael Joyce, Hargrave’s CEO. The yard also let Shalem—a longtime owner of a real-estate-development and -management company who is accustomed to assembling teams—play a large role in choosing craftsmen to work on the project. This father of four and grandfather to even more (baba means “grandfather” in several cultures) was hands-on in nearly all aspects, ranging from gathering the workers to specifying the systems to selecting the mosaics in the interior.

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Shalem’s boat-ownership days date back to 1975, when he purchased a 22-foot bowrider. Fast-forward to 1999, and he took delivery of his first Hargrave, a 92-foot flush-deck motoryacht he christened Babe. Seven years later came the 105-foot Hargrave Dream, followed by the 136-foot trideck DREAmer in 2011.

DREAmer was the first Hargrave constructed somewhere other than the Kha Shing, Taiwan, shipyard. She was constructed in Turkey, at Shalem’s request, at Ned Ship Group.

186-foot Hargrave Yacht interior
Formal dining can be an elegant affair aboard this 186-footer for Sam Shalem, his wife, Lydia, and their children and grandchildren. Tom Serio

When it came to Baba’s, another shipyard switch was in order because of her steel hull and aluminum superstructure; the previous yachts were all fiberglass. The former Sunrise Yachts shipyard in Turkey was available, so Hargrave acquired it and renamed it HSY, for Hargrave Super Yachts. Shalem researched regulatory requirements, sourced international subcontractors, picked department chiefs, and selected his captain and crew. Joyce credits “Sam’s people skills” in bringing together these teams, including Turkey-based Unique Yacht Design for styling and interiors.

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The yacht is designed for family use with six staterooms: a main-deck master, four guest staterooms belowdecks and a VIP on the bridge deck. A waterfall spills into the hot tub on the sun deck, which Shalem’s grandchildren particularly love. The most popular place on board is the beach club, with its own hot tub, bar and gym equipment. The family especially enjoys the space because it’s something DREAmer didn’t have.

“This is the most detailed owner we’ve ever worked for,” Joyce asserts, adding that Shalem was as specific about the color of the leather stitching as he was about equipment. The master-stateroom headboard replicates the band of a Cartier watch. Two galleys are on board, with the main-deck galley being a showpiece of stone. (Shalem likes to cook, though the belowdecks galley for crew comes into play when he’s with his family.) The yacht’s wooden wall panels took six months to craft and complete, according to Joyce. Each piece required hand-shaping, sanding, gluing and then veneering.

186-foot Hargrave Yacht interior
Baba’s is equipped with not one but two galleys. Note the backlit countertop. Tom Serio

The crew has a lounge with a video game console, leather settee and head. Together with Shalem, the captain selected all the helm electronics and their layout. Having served aboard DREAmer for three years, the captain has a good working relationship with his boss.

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Overall, the boss is thrilled with the boat. “This is my baby,” Shalem says. As for Hargrave, it now has five yachts under construction at the HSY shipyard, as well as the capability of constructing in fiberglass, aluminum and steel. The hope? To show even more would-be owners how confidence looks.

Take the next step: hargravecustomyachts.com

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